How fast are larval fishes?
Larval (baby) fishes are not always at the mercy of ocean currents, many are in fact very strong swimmers and can swim surprisingly fast.
The average 1cm long fish larva swims at 20 cm/sec (14 body lengths/sec). To put these figures into perspective, if Olympic swimmers could swim as well as fish larvae, they could do the 100 m in 3.6 seconds. The world record is about 48 seconds.
Reef-fish larvae also have amazing endurance. The average reef-fish can swim in a laboratory tread-mill, without rest or food, for several days covering about 40 km. Scaled to size, this is equivalent to a human swimming about 4000km.
- View information on Dr Jeff Leis' research on larval fishes.
- The superfish challenge: Michael Phelps vs real fish. Science News. ABC website (online, 9 August 2016).
Mark McGrouther , Collection Manager, Ichthyology